Election fact-checker: Leaders debate edition

Albertans tuned in to watch Rachel Notley, Jason Kenney, David Khan and Stephen Mandel debate the issues Thursday evening. 

CBC News examined claims made by the party leaders during the debate and all four had misleading claims. 

Comments made by politicians and the parties online are ranked as true, false or muddy in CBC News fact-checker articles.

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The muddy moments

David Khan, Liberal Party

“The UCP and the Alberta Party have talked about privatizing health care.”

Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel: “No, we haven’t!”

Khan: “Yes, Mr. Clark was on QR 77 last week suggesting that your party would look at privatizing some parts of the health care system.”

Mandel: “No, we didn’t. I don’t know where you heard that from?!”

Ranking:Muddy

Here’s why: The health-care portion of the Alberta Party platformdoesn’t mention privatization, or private delivery of services. In fact, the party wants to increase health benefits by adding an annual dental care check up for children ages 12 and under.

Here’s the actual exchange between a radio talk-show host and former Alberta Party MLA Greg Clark, during a March 21 interview:

Host: “We already have lots of private care, ways to pay privately to get services done in the health world. Your view on, can we go a little farther that way? Do we have to pull back? How do we use the private health care to help the public system?”

Clark: “You know, I do think we need to start thinking about some of that. I won’t say a definitive no. I will say the Alberta Party is totally committed to a public health-care system. We need to make sure we maintain equal access and have a focus on quality and access, but we also need to start looking at creative ways of reducing costs.”


Stephen Mandel, Alberta Party 

“The reality is we don’t have enough pipelines to send our oil south. We don’t have any pipelines to send it west or east. Part of that [was the] responsibility of Mr. Kenney and his government. When he was there, they could have pushed Northern Gateway through, but he didn’t do that.”

Ranking: Muddy

Here’s why: Stephen Harper’s federal Conservative government, which included Kenney, signed off on the Northern Gateway pipeline. But Ottawa’s approval was overturned by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2016, and the Liberal government did not appeal the court decision.


Jason Kenney, UCP

On wait times and Alberta’s healthcare: “And that’s with a government that is spending more, with the most expensive system in Canada.”

Ranking: Muddy

Here’s why: Statistics from 2018 show that Alberta does spend more per person than any other province. However, the territories certainly have the most expensive health-care systems in Canada. For example, health-care costs per person in the Northwest Territories were more than double that of per-person costs in Alberta in 2018, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.


Rachel Notley, NDP 

“Here’s the thing: pipelines, pipelines, pipelines. I’ve just now said the word two more times than Mr. Kenney did when he was a cabinet minister.”

Ranking: Muddy

Here’s why: It is impossible to check every speaking engagement and media scrum over Kenney’s nearly 20-year federal career. Technically, Kenney said the word “pipeline” three times in the House of Commons, although he was an opposition MP and not a cabinet minister at the time. Kenney also mentioned the Northern Gateway pipeline by name in the House of Commons. While he was federal employment minister in 2014, he said “pipeline” several times when speaking to CBC about the impact of falling oil prices.

Here are the two Hansard records of when he mentioned the word “pipeline” for a total of three times in Ottawa (with transcripts):

UCP Leader Jason Kenney, NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel participated in the Alberta Leaders Debate in Edmonton Thursday. (CBC)

The facts

Jason Kenney, UCP

“We need to focus on things like the huge decline in math scores for Alberta students.”

Ranking: True

Here’s why: In 2018, one-third of Alberta Grade 9 students failed the provincial exams for math. An international test taken by Alberta Grade 4 students in 2015 showed math scores had been slipping over 10 years.


Rachel Notley, NDP

“Mr. Kenney’s caucus voted against Bill 24 [An Act to Support Gay-Straight Alliances] when we brought it in.”

Ranking: True

Here’s why: The NDP’s Bill 24 prevented teachers from outing students who join a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at school. When the bill passed in November 2017, the 23 MLAs who voted against it were from the UCP caucus. One UCP MLA, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, was absent from the vote. Another, Leela Aheer, abstained.


David Khan, Liberal Party

“There has been money for class-size reductions for years, and we do not know where it has gone.”

Ranking: True

Here’s why: An auditor general’s report, delivered in 2018, showed that Alberta Education has spent billions of dollars over 13 years to try and reduce class sizes, without actually reducing class sizes. The auditor general also found that the government wasn’t tracking how that money was spent within school districts.  


Stephen Mandel, Alberta Party

“We have to be concerned about bigotry and intolerance. That’s something nobody can tolerate anywhere. And that seems to be something that is following Mr. Kenney’s party on an ongoing basis.”

Ranking: True

Here’s why: Over the past several weeks, there have been high-profile controversies involving UCP candidates making sexist, homophobic, or racist remarks. Two of those candidates, Caylan Ford and Eva Kiryakos, have since resigned. Mark Smith, the candidate for Drayton Valley-Devon, has apologized for remarks he made about homosexual relationships.

As part of an ongoing effort to hold Alberta’s political leaders and political parties accountable, CBC News will fact-check comments made by politicians and photos posted online at various times along the campaign trail.  

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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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